Wednesday, July 31, 2013

James LaBrie - Impermanent Resonance (2013)

Most of you probably know James LaBrie best as the singer of the progressive metal legends Dream Theater, but on the side of Dream Theater, James have had some success with his solo project. And even if the solo band has certain progressive parts, most of the music is more like modern melodic hard rock. So for those of you who expect more Dream Theater like stuff on this record, though luck.

Anyhow, "Impermanent Resonance" is the third solo album for James, and even though I think he is the "weak" link in Dream Theater, he does an excellent job here. It may be because he have written the songs himself, but it is clear that his voice is more suited for this kind of music. The rest of the band does a good job as well, especially the drummer Peter Wildoer (Darkane) who also does the harsh vocal parts.

On to the album itself. The opening track "Agony" is the fastest track in the album and it is an addictive track with the epic chorus and sweet beat. It is kind of sad that there are no more songs like this one on "Impermanent Resonance". The second song, "Undertow", can easily be mistaken as a Dead By April song with its high electronic sound, the harsh vocal bridge and almost pop like tendencies. Even if so, "Undertow" is a great song that together with "Agony" brings the album to a fantastic start.

After the fast and hard hitting start, most of the remaining album sets its energy on creating beautiful and meaningful ballads and mid-tempo songs. Most of the songs does a good job, like "Back On The Ground" and "Holding On", but I feel that they could have put one or two songs on the sideline and instead put in a different kind of song. It is still a nice variety through the album though. This album covers almost everything, from the heavy "I Will Not Break" to the delicate "Say You're Still Mine".

The only thing that really bothers me is the over excessive use of the electronic keyboard. In small doses, it gives a song some personality, but use too much of it and it will take over faster than a zombie virus. I could make it the productions fault that the keyboard is too loud, but Jens Bogren did a excellent job producing this album. If someone else had produced this album, then I am pretty sure that I would have lowered the rating with one or two points.

Besides the fact that this could as well be a Dead By April album, I am impressed by "Impermanent Resonance". The music is great and James himself sings much better then he usually does. This will definitely be interesting since his main band Dream Theater will soon release a new album. If that album is as good as "Impermanent Resonance", then I will guarantee that you Dream Theater nerds will be mighty satisfied.

Songs worthy of recognition: Undertow, Agony, Holding On, Destined To Burn

Rating: 8,5/10 Amnesias

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Five Finger Death Punch - The Wrong Side of Heaven And The Righteous Side of Hell - Volume 1 (2013)

The band with one of the coolest names in metal is once again back, and this time they have created so many songs that they have decided to make a double album. "The Wrong Side of Heaven And The Righteous Side of Hell - Volume 1" is the first part of the double album while the other half will be released in November. Even if it is exciting that the band is trying this out, they are not alone on attempting this method. Last year, Green Day released a triple album, Stone Sour released a double concept album and even Soilwork released a double album. So 5FDP is just another band that keeps this trend up.

The album itself is typical Five Finger Death Punch. A overflow of bad ass attitude, heavy riffs and memorable choruses. Actually, the only surprising part with this release is that the band has invited several guest artist to back them up. We have Max Cavalera (ex-Sepultura, Soulfly), Maria Brink (In This Moment), Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed) and rapper Tech N9ne. But they all fade out compared to the Metal God himself. That's right, Rob Halford from Judas Priest makes an appearance on the first track and first single "Lift Me Up". I did not care too much of the song when I first heard it, but it grew on me and now I can still catch me hum the chorus from time to time. Halford only makes an effort in the second verse, second chorus and in the ending, but he still does a good job and shows why he is called the Metal God. Otherwise I think that the rest of the guests are just redundant, especially since 5FDP made a version with and without the guest in every song they participated in (except "Lift Me Up" and "Mama Said Knock You Out"). The worst part with this is that the band has put both versions in the CD. I would not have minded if they had put one of the versions in a deluxe CD, but they did not.

One of the strength with 5FDP is the variety. The band can create anything from heavy and fast metal songs to emotional rock ballads, something that definitely shows in this album. The heaviest piece is "Dot Your Eyes" that crunches you with its heavy riff and hard stomping lyrics. A clear favourite in this album. Two other heavy tracks are the melodic and epic "I.M. Sin" and the fast, but not so strong "Burn MF".

If we go from "hell" and go to the "heaven" part of the album, then we will first see the title track that is the most beautiful song that the band has created so far in their career. I also like the lyrics in the song, which shows that the band has matured a lot since the last record. The other ballad, "Anywhere But Here", is the only song in the album where the guest artist is doing some service. Maria Brink does a great job together with Ivan Moody to create a tender and fantastic duet. The song itself is also good and holds a surprisingly groovy rhythm.

I also want to give a shout out to my personal favourite "Watch You Bleed". This song has a addictive beat and a epic chorus that really encourages the listener to sing a long. The guitar solo is also the best in the album.

Does this album have any bad sides then? Well, I would say that the naggy "You" and anonymous "M.I.N.E (End This Way)" does not help to lift the album up, and the semi instrumental "Diary of A Deadman" is okay as a closer, but overall nothing special. But the rotten piece of the album is the LL Cool J cover of "Mama Said Knock You Out". I understand that the band wants to turn a song from a completely different genre to a heavy metal song, but they failed miserably with that mission, especially since rapper Tech N9ne (what kind of name is that?) takes the song back to its origin. If the band did create 20+ great songs, why the hell did they leave this cover in the album? It makes no sense.

Five Finger Death Punch is with this release taking their music another step up the ladder. The music is still the same up your ass attitude, but the lyrics has improved a lot since "American Capitalist" and the variety is still at an all time high. This album may have a title that is way too long for comfort, but it is a album that has a lot of quality, but unfortunately also a shitty cover and two versions of the same songs. The second volume will be released in November, so until then, I will keep listen to most of this record, since it is another proof that 5FDP knows what they are doing.

Songs worthy of recognition: Watch You Bleed, Lift Me Up, Dot Your Eyes, Anywhere But Here

Rating: 8,5/10 Deadmen

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fight Or Flight - A Life By Design? (2013)

Earlier this year, we heard Disturbed singer David Draiman and his side project Device strike us with mild strength and a bad copy of Disturbed music. Now the turn has come to the guitarist Dan Donegan and drummer Mike Wengren to show of what they can do outside of Disturbed. The project is named Fight Or Flight and in the band, we also have Dan Chandler on vocals, Sean Corcoran on bass and Jeremy Jameson on rhythm guitar. The debut album is named "A Life By Design?" and on the cover is corn wrapped in barb wire, a scare crow with a puking crow, and a heroin addicted snake. A pretty fucked up cover I would say.

Anyhow, you will immediately notice two things with Fight Or Flight's music. The first thing is that it is not like Disturbed, which is a relief. The sound is instead classic American rock music that stays away from the Disturbed frames (except for some crunchy guitar riffs here and there). The other notable thing is that the rest of the album is not like the single and the opening track "First of the Last". "First of The Last" is a fast and groovy song that has several interesting parts like the catchy chorus and cool solo. Sadly, this is the only one of its kind in "A Life By Design?" since the rest of the songs are more or less typical American hard rock that is far from original. Too bad, since "First of The Last" is the clear king of the hill.

The rest of the songs are more or less copies of each other. Pretty slow paced songs that puts their energy in creating something meaningful or some kind of feeling. A couple of these songs in a album is okay, but "A Life By Design" is completely packed with these kinds of songs, which kills the variation completely. But if we look past the lack of variation and instead focus our sight on the song quality, then it is not that bad. I could easily have asked for more memorability in the songs, but they are enough to make me sit there and swing my head back and forth some bit.

Some of the small gems I find in this haze have something that makes them a little more interesting than the rest. For instance, "Leaving" impresses with its acoustic part and "Eraser" has some crunchy riffs and a good chorus. I also like the different approach they take in "A Void" where they try to mediate a sense of hopelessness in the music. But are there any low points in "A Life By Design?"? I do not think so, but since there are so many songs that are so similar, they do not get the recognition they probably would have gotten if they would have been put in a different record. But if I had to chose the weakest track, then I would say that the closer "Tragedy" is the winner.

The winner of the Disturbed hiatus fight is Fight Or Flight, mostly because they are trying something outside their box. The music in "A Life By Design?" may not be new nor innovative, but it is still enjoyable. If the band works out to create more catchier tunes and put in more variation, then I think Fight Or Flight may have a future, at least until Disturbed stops their hiatus.

Songs worthy of recognition: First of The Last, Leaving, Eraser

Rating: 6/10 Sacrifices

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Iron Maiden - Virtual XI (1998)

"Virtual XI" is the second (and last) album with Blaze Bayley and also the only album where Blaze was a part of the song writing process. And after hearing this album, I can definitely hear that Blaze has contributed a lot on the material. Some of the songs, especially "The Angel And The Gambler", has influences from Blaze's current band Wolfsbane. So instead of the dark and absorbing sound that was present in "The X Factor", "Virtual XI" is more of a upbeat album with some classic rock elements. You may ask, is these influences good or bad? Well, they help to make the album more memorable then its predecessor, but I still feel that it is not one hundred percent Maiden, even though I can accept it.

It is instantly clear that the band has left behind the experimental failure known as "The X Factor" behind them. The opening track "Futureal" is more like the good old Maiden with the speed and the chorus that has that classic mix of epicness and catchiness that Maiden is known for. A good way to start off "Virtual XI", but compared to similar tracks like "Running Free" and "Heaven Can Wait", "Futureal" is still behind. Afterwards comes "The Angel And The Gambler", a track I have already stated that it is a Wolfsbane song in disguise. It is still one of the trump cards in this album, but was it necessary to put in the line "Don't you think I'm a saviour/Don't you think I could save you/Don't you think I could save your life" so many times in this song? It gets very repetitive very quickly.

"The Angel And the Gambler" is the longest song in the bunch, but there are two other epics in "Virtual XI". First we have the 9 minute long "The Clansman" that has the biggest epic factor in the album, but its weakness is that it is not a memorable epic. The other epic, 8 minute long "Don't Look To The Eyes of A Stranger", is some what of a opposite. It is a pretty repetitive track, but it has the speed, riffs and feeling that makes me think back to the other classic Maiden epics like "Seventh Son of A Seventh Son" and "Rime of The Ancient Mariner". This is definitely my favourite track in the Blaze era, especially since Blaze finally managed to perform some great singing in this track.

The rest of the songs on "Virtual XI" keeps the momentum going. But there is two songs that stands out a little extra. One is of course the well recognized ballad "Como Estais Amigos" (Spanish for how are you, friends) that closes the album in a beautiful and impressive way. The other song is the determined and groovy "The Educated Fool". It is an under appreciated song that impresses with its epic chorus and fine riff work. Sure, Blaze does not do his strongest effort here, but I feel that Gers's and Murray's guitar playing makes up for it.

It stands very clear that this is the best Maiden album with Blaze Bayley on vocals, but it is still far behind most of the albums in the Maiden catalog. The epicness is there, the catchy tunes are there, the musicality is there, but it is clear that the true soul and inspiration is gone. But just like with "The X Factor", how many did actually expect "Virtual XI" to become a new Maiden classic? I know that I did not, and for that, I could actually enjoy the album, even though it did not reach that extra level.

Songs worthy of recognition: Don't Look To The Eyes of A Stranger, Futureal, The Educated Fool

Rating: 6,5/10 Clansmen

Friday, July 19, 2013

Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals - Walk Through Exits Only (2013)

Most of you probably know Philip H. Anselmo as the lead singer of the legendary band Pantera, but Mr. Anselmo has been in several projects since Pantera split-up in 2003. From the successful Down to smaller projects like Superjoint Ritual and Arson Anthem. Now he is back with his first solo album and with him is The Illegals (who consists of drummer Jose Manuel Gonzales, guitarist Marzi Montazeri and bassist Stephen Taylor) who helps out on the instrument department.

The name of the album is "Walk Through Exits Only" and the music on this album could be described as a dark stoner version of Pantera, especially since Anselmo sings with his growling voice again. The only thing that this album is missing from being a lost Pantera release is the song quality.

'Cause that is where the fire is burning. The songs on this album is just a big mosh of sloppy riffs, weird growling and locked up emotions. Sometimes I cannot even tell if it is a new riff or if it was the same one as the one in the previous song. I feel that there is nothing in the music that ties it all together. No glue or rope, just loose parts that have been mashed together. Now I respect what Mr. Anselmo has done in his career, but I do not even know what to say about this release. This is much below his average work.

Ok, so I am going to try to explain some of the songs if I can. Here we go. The album starts with "Music Media Is My Whore", a horrible title and a track filled with snare rolls and theremin sounds, which is not a good combo. The following track "Battalion of Zero" continues the snare rolls, but it has a little more melody in it, which makes it barely listenable. "Betrayed" is trying some grind core shit, but the constant tempo shifting destroys the song completely. "Usurper's Bastard Rant" is a bastard. The title track has some speed in it (the drug, not the thing that Formula 1 cars have). "Bedroom Destroyer" is the only acceptable song with its crunchy and heavy body. "Bedridden" is just mind fucking (the wrong kind). And finally, "Irrelevant Walls And Computer Screens" could have easily been cut in half, but not even then it would be worth listening to. Well, I think I did a good job describing this shit, don't you think?

If you ever see "Walk Through Exits Only" in a record store or in a friends house, please steal it and kill it with plenty of fire. There is very little that is even acceptable on this record. The song writing is bad, the instruments sounds like someone is strangling a toddler, and Mr. Anselmo himself has lost his freaking mind. Actually, the only thing good about this album is that it is only 41 minutes long. But it is still 41 minutes I will never get back. So check out my rating while I look for the nearest emergency exit away from this train wreck of a record.

Song barely worthy of recognition: Bedroom Destroyer

Rating: 1/10 Irrelevant Walls

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Iron Maiden - The X Factor (1995)

Iron Maiden's 10th album "The X Factor" is mostly recognized as the first record since the 1981 album "Killers" without Bruce Dickinson, who left the band to pursue a solo career. Instead, we have Blaze Bayley, who today is known as the singer of Wolfsbane, Blaze Bayley and the newly composed band The Foundry. A good replacement? Well, sadly no. No offense Blaze, you are a really good singer, but you do not have the same power and range like Dickinson have. So you would see that "The X Factor" was doomed from the very beginning.

Just by looking at the cover, where Eddie is being gruesomely tortured, you could already hint that "The X Factor" would become the darkest Maiden piece up to date. Just the fact that the band starts the album with the 11 minute epic "Sign of The Cross" is just dark and twisted. The song is good, but it is more suited as a closing song instead of a opener. And that song is a big proof that Bruce is a lot better on these epic and long notes then what Blaze will ever be.

"Sign of The Cross" is together with "Lord of The Flies" and "Man On The Edge" the most famous song on "The X Factor", and all of these three songs are first on this album. "Lord of The Flies" has a good riff and a catchy melody, while "Man On The Edge" emerges as a powder keg filled with a "Aces High" beat and a repetitive, but epic and great chorus.

So "The X Factor" is strong from the starting blocks, but it loses some of the momentum during the race. The sluggish "Fortunes of War" starts the downward slope, even if it picks up some speed in the end. The ride down continues with "Look For The Truth" and "The Aftermath", two very anonymous songs that needs heavy duty glue to stick onto my head.

But as the finish line is visible on the horizon, "The X Factor" picks up speed again and finally starts to deliver. First is "Judgement of Heaven" that impresses with its epic musicality and inspiring lyrical theme. Then we have the aggressive "Blood On The World's Hands" that has the best beat and the best vocal performance on this album, but the minute long slow start could have easily been skipped. The last song that leaves a standing impression on me is the emotional "2 AM" that has some of the best musical work on this album.

But the overall performance is weak. The darkness in this album weighs down the otherwise fantastic ingenuity that the band usually shows and Blaze's voice tries hard, but it cannot give the music that special dimension that Bruce's voice can. There are some bright spots in "Man On The Edge" and "Judgement of Heaven", but this album is just a very pale, dark rip off compared to the likes of "Powerslave" and "Seventh Son of A Seventh Son". If you are a Maiden fan or wish to look into the band's discography, take caution with this album. Because this is far from the Maiden that we know and love.

Songs worthy of recognition: Man On The Edge, Judgement of Heaven, Blood On The World's Hands

Rating: 4,5/10 Aftermaths

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Movie review: Spiders

Just like anybody else, I got fears off my own. Getting rectum reamed by Aliens, atom bombs blowing up the earth and seeing my grandma in a bikini. I am not necessarily afraid of spiders, but I easily get a jump scare when I see a little eight legged fucker sneaking up behind me (the same goes with random insects). However, if the world would be invaded by huge 10 meter spiders, I would probably transform into Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter series and run for my fucking life. Fortunately, this is only happening through the magic of movies. Which leads us to Spiders, another movie about the world getting attacked by over sized animals that was probably caused by man itself. So yeah, this movie is far from original (found at least 30 titles on IMDB about giant spiders) and since the only great animal horror movie is Jaws, I had some low expectations for this movie.

Eek, spoilers incoming.

The story starts with a abandoned Soviet satellite that crashes down towards earth, and one piece of the satellite crashes through the ground, into the outskirts of a New York subway station, which shakes the whole ground. Investigations starts instantly and on the scene is the head supervisor of the subway system Jason Cole. He quickly finds out that the satellite piece included some kind of mutant spiders that was geneticly altered together with DNA from something "unexplainable" that the soviets found under the ice of Caucasus. So there is the basic story line and I can totally accept this highly unlikely story, but I am not sure that this would have been possible twenty years ago (the time when this mutant spider was created according to the movie). Maybe today, but not twenty years ago.

So far so good, but it is turning worse the longer the movie rolls. The US government and army quickly puts a quarantine in the neighbourhood and tells that there is a "virus epidemic". Then they do what they do best, fucking it up. The Russian professor Dr. Jarnoff (who have worked with this project since it started) tries to tell the army leader what he and his soldiers should do, but do they listen? Fuck no. The soldiers shots at the giant spiders even though Jarnoff told them to stand out of their way. Typical American movie stupidity. But the worst part is that the army is holding Jason's daughter and babysitter hostages and they have put a warrant for Jason and his wife. Suddenly, this middle age subway supervisor that is going through a divorce has become freaking Jason Bourne for no known reason. This part just fucks up my mind completely. Does he know too much? Is he a danger for society? Does he smoke crack? I do not know, and I guess that most of you who have watched this movie does not understand either.

There is not much to cheer for in this movie, but I have to say that the spiders look pretty bad ass with their spiked up bodies, web shooting rears and those two front "teeth" that slices and dices. And sadly, the spiders does the best acting in the movie. The whole movie is filled with B-class and C-class actors that seem to not give a shit about the movie at all.

Lastly, the ending is also very strange. They killed the queen... then what? Should I believe that the rest of the giant spiders just dropped dead or crawled back to the subway tunnels after their precious queen died? I am sorry, but I do not believe that at all. Sure, since the queen was the only female spider, I would guess that the spiders would die after some time, but they would still spread terror through the city. But hey, the plot was already screwed, so why not screw up the ending as well.

If it was not for the shitty US army and the weird warrant against Jason, this would be a regular B-movie with some decent effects that probably would have been shitty on 3D (I watched the 2D version because 3D sucks balls). And I expected a horror movie with a lot of gore, blood and spider web. Sadly, this is a very bad thriller that mixes giant spiders with the Jason Bourne plot. So please, if you watch this movie, do it for the spiders, not the plot.

Rating: 2/10 Spider queens

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Metaltown 2013, Saturday shows

Earlier I gave you the reviews of some of the Friday shows in Metaltown 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Today, I give you the reviews of some of the Saturday shows in Metaltown 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Enjoy.

Devin Townsend Project:

This was probably the band that I had highest expectations for before the festival, but the rest of the audience seemed to not share the same enthusiastic spirit. I think it is because Devin Townsend Project was just a replacement for The Dillinger Escape Plan, who canceled due to injury. But even with the small crowd, Devin put on a hell of a show. He was making faces, showing photo shopped pictures before the show, and was all around crazy up on the stage. And even though I missed "Liberation" from the set list, I was still pretty satisfied, even though I knew that the Canadian mastermind did not get the recognition he deserved.

Best: "By Your Command" and Devin's showmanship

Worst: Pretty unengaged audience

Rating: 6,5/10 Kingdoms

Hardcore Superstar:

Saturday was a pretty slow day here at Metaltown, but it took a Swedish sleaze metal band to wake up the crowd. Hardcore Superstar did what they were supposed to do and rocked the place. Songs like "Dreamin' In A Casket", "Last Call For Alcohol" and "We Don't Celebrate Sundays" are great to waken a slumbering audience. The show itself was nothing special, but it was still good. The set list however, could have been improved. Two songs I definitely missed was "Beg For It" and "Bastards", another two songs that could have helped to get the party started. But I shall not complain. Instead, I shall be satisfied.

Best: They woke up the audience and "Last Call For Alcohol"

Worst: Why did they not play "Beg For It" and "Bastards"?

Rating: 7/10 Moonshines

Meshuggah:

I wanted heaviness, and I got heaviness plus more. Meshuggah certainly put the Metal in Metaltown with their heavy and intoxicating djent metal. Their performance was flawless and when Jens Kidman takes out his bottom jaw and rolls his eyes up towards his brain, then you know that he and the rest of the band is in the flow. Unfortunately, I have not listened to so much Meshuggah so I did not know too many of the songs, but this show was a obvious sign that I should open Spotify and play through their whole discography through my ears. But I am glad that they played some songs from "Koloss" so I was not completely lost he he.

Best: The perfect performance and "Do Not Look Down"

Worst: That I did not know most of the songs (I really need to listen to more Meshuggah)

Rating: 9/10 Combustions

Danzig:

Well, well, another band that I do not know all to well. Of course I know about the career of Glenn Danzig, but his band is just one of many other bands that I have not done my homework on. Anyhow, this show was for a celebration for the 25th anniversary of the band and together on stage in the later half was the former Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein and he had some good power in him. Sadly, the show took a big dip when he started to play. It is not Doyle's fault, it is the Misfits songs that is too blame. It was like I watched two different concert right after each other. Not very comfortable. Luckily, the first half was good and held this performance above water.

Best: The non Misfits songs

Worst: The Misfits songs

Rating: 6,5/10 Astro Zombies

Korn:

I was wondering whether or not Korn really was worthy of the headline act on this, but then again, looking through the band list I was convinced that they were the best band for the job. The set list itself was nothing surprising and I could not hear if there were any new songs from the upcoming new album, but I was impressed that the band showed some great passion, especially the drummer Ray Luzier who was in a good play mood. But after the show (while watching two guys fighting over a drumstick), I was asking myself two things. 1. Get Up as one of the encore songs? Really? And 2. Where the hell did Jonathan Davis left his famous kilt? That mistake is totally unacceptable! Just kidding, but I was bummed out about it. Well, at least we got to see him play the bag pipe.

Best: "Narcissistic Cannibal" and Ray Luzier's slamming beats

Worst: Where the hell were your kilt Jonathan?

Rating: 8,5/10 Freaks on leashes

Besides these bands that I have reviewed, I have also seen small glimpses of The Ghost Inside, Asking Alexandria, Carcass, Amaranthe and Napalm Death. Thanks for this year Metaltown. We will see if we meet again next year of if it will be another festival (like Sweden Rock or other).

Stay metal
Sharkruisher

Monday, July 8, 2013

Metaltown 2013, Friday shows.

Back home from a great weekend with booze, metal fans and great concerts. Metaltown definitely delivered, both in band lineup and logistics. But how good was the bands that performed? The first half of the answer is coming right here, right now.

Between The Buried And Me:

I have been dying too see this band these last couple of years and I am so glad that I finally saw them. Unfortunately, the show could have been a lot better. They played in the Close-up stage, which is the smallest stage and located inside a circus tent, and you could easily see that the small size was repressive against the band. And if that was not enough, the sound was horrible. I could barely hear Tommy Rogers's vocals. And since they were scheduled pretty early, the set list was limited to 5 songs ("Astral Body", "Lay Your Ghost To Rest", Prequel To The Sequel", "Telos" and "Selkies: The Endless Obsession"). Otherwise, they did what they do best. Play very technically and passionately. So I better buy myself a ticket next time they do a headline show in Sweden so I can experience their full potential.

Best: "Prequel To The Sequel" and the fine instrumental skills

Worst: The sound and the short playtime

Rating: 5,5/10 Astral Bodies

Soilwork:

A main part of the set list was dedicated to the band's latest album, "The Living Infinite", and no wonder, that double album was one of the best albums by the band ever. And the response from the crowd when songs like "Tongue", "Parasite Blues" and "Rise Above The Sentiment" played was remarkable. The band itself did a great and solid job on the stage, and even though the bassist Ola Flink was shining and making a great show, the overall performance lacked something special. But it was a solid performance, and that is enough to make me happy.

Best: Ola Flink and "Spectrum of Eternity"

Worst: Why did not the rest of the band had the same feeling as Ola had?

Rating: 7/10 Tongues

Danko Jones:

The small pamphlet that I was handed when entering was describing Danko Jones as the second biggest Canadian trio after Rush. I will not argue with that statement, but I was wondering if putting a big rock band in a metal festival was such a good idea? After the show, I was proven wrong. The band them self said that they were a nice rock break from all the metal, and even though they opened up with their most famous song ("Had Enough"), they successfully kept the momentum on this "break". And even though the show was good,  it was Danko's small talk in between songs that were the best. Giving a shout out to those who were in the beer tent and celebrate some of the big deceased rock legends was a good gesture. But I am bummed that they left behind songs like "Get Up" and "Conceited" for "Legs". Well, at least they had "Just A Beautiful Day" that represented the good side of their latest album "Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue".

Best: The small talk and "Just A Beautiful Day"

Worst: The band did not chose the best songs from the latest album

Rating: 7/10 legs

Ghost:

I tried and I tried, but I could not for the love of my life see who was behind the masks of Ghost. So instead, I tried to enjoy the performance, which was a lot easier. Ghost does not need a flashy show, they just have to perform like it was some kind of a ritual to really boost their show. Papa Emeritus II comes in with his spire and his robe (which looks incredibly awesome) and sings. Nothing more, nothing less. But I cannot let go that this show would have been a lot better if it was at the middle of the night. And even if the set list was good, the band still needs a couple of albums to really nail a one hour show. But a good show is a good show, and Ghost showed that they know how to please a crowd.

Best: "Year Zero"and Papa Emeritus II's outfit

Worst: This performance would have been much better in darkness

Rating: 8,5/10 Zombie Queens

Sabaton:

Sabaton is probably the biggest band in Sweden right now, and the audience really showed it. After only two songs into the set list, the singer Joakim Brodén already had goose bumps. Was I as enthusiastic as the rest of the crowd? Well, not exactly. Sabaton is, according to me, one of the more overrated bands right now and even though they did a great show with flames, bangs and speed, I felt that they played too much from the latest album, "Carolus Rex" and that the guitars was not loud enough. Still, it was better then I expected and the encore was definitely extraordinary.

Best: The pyrotechnics and "Primo Victoria"

Worst: Too much songs from "Carolus Rex"

Rating: 8/10 Lions from the north

Slipknot:

This was my first Slipknot concert, so I was completely done after the show was over. The first half hour was the craziest shit I have ever been through in a live show and it did not help that it was only just the beginning. Middle fingers, a spinning clown, Joey Jordison playing his drums in vertical position, the whole crowd sitting down during "Spit It Out", the pushing, the shoving and of course, the fucking mosh pits. The whole 1 hour and 30 minutes was just insane metal madness at its best. I have never seen anything like this. And let us not forget the constant celebrations for the deceased bass player Paul Grey that gave the show an extra level. Together with Metallica 2011 and Iron Maiden 2008, this was the best live show I have been to so far. It definitely made my heart beat 666 times per minute.

Best: "People = Shit" and the shout outs to Paul Grey

Worst: I may be petty, but I missed "Left Behind".

Rating: 10/10 Psychosocials

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Iron Maiden - Fear of The Dark (1992)

After the mediocre release "No Prayer For The Dying", Iron Maiden took off in a new run too make this more direct rock approach work. But this time, the band put more focus on the melodies and really tried to create some killer tunes. The result came in 1992 with the release of "Fear of The Dark", and even though this was a clear step forward from "No Prayer For The Dying", this album suffered from the same problems. The overall standard may have been good, but it was still far below the usual Maiden standard, which once again made me disappointed.

So what it is that makes "Fear of The Dark" superior over its predecessor? Well first off, this album has two more songs than "No Prayer For The Dying" (the more, the merrier), then the music is more developed and has more depth to create a greater experience overall. All this can actually be proven in a comparison between two of the most popular tracks from the albums. The songs "Holy Smoke" and "From Here To Eternity" are very similar with their rocking up-tempo speed and shred filled solos, but the big difference between the two tracks is that "From Here To Eternity" has more of a epic feel going through the beats and the chorus is miles better then that in "Holy Smoke".

Another proof that the band was putting in more epicness in this album was that this album had two songs over 6 minutes while "No Prayer For The Dying" had none. The first one, "Afraid To Shoot Strangers", is a tempo shifting story that should please any Maiden fans with its fast solos and memorable chorus. Then we also have the title track that has become a big fan favourite in live shows. Now I have seen Iron Maiden live once, and since then, I have always known that when "Fear of The Dark" comes on, the whole crowd transforms into a massive choir. In a way, "Fear of The Dark" is the ultimate live song whit its intensity, catchy riff, catchy chorus and big room for improvisation. The studio version of "Fear of The Dark" is slightly weaker, but it is still an epic killer tune that makes this album a whole lot better.

Besides from the fast and hooky "Be Quick Or Be Dead", there is no more song that really shines in "Fear of The Dark". Sure, songs like "Fear Is The Key", "The Fugitive" and "Childhood's End" have their moments, but they blend easily in with the rest of the material, which means that they do not stand out as much as they would have done in another sort of album. So there are no real low marks on "Fear of The Dark", even though the weakest songs are easily forgettable.

"Fear of The Dark" is all in all a very good album. The standard is high and the memorability factor may be below Maiden average, but it is still at an acceptable level. So in the end, Maiden did a really good job on this album, even though they only put out around 80% of their true capability.

Songs worthy of recognition: Fear of The Dark, Be Quick Or Be Dead, Afraid To Shoot Strangers

Rating: 7,5/10 Fugitives